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AMA Victoria's response to parents bypassing general practice

Thursday 6 October 2016

"The research undertaken by Professor Gary Freed and others on general practice and paediatrics, published in the Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health and reported in The Age, is important and welcomed by the Victorian medical profession," AMA Victoria President, Dr Lorraine Baker, said.

"The research endeavours to understand how parents obtain specialist appointments with paediatricians and also their attitude and perception of GPs treating children. The study found that only 45% of respondents were completely confident in their GP providing general care to their child. This opens up many questions, including whether there is sufficient understanding of the role of general practice within the community and children’s health management in particular.

"General Practitioners (GPs, also known as family doctors) play an essential role in children’s health. From pre-conception, pregnancy, prenatal care, and all the way through infant, toddler, child and adolescent health, GPs are always exposed to children’s health issues.

"Furthermore, many GPs have great expertise and special interest in this area (just as some GPs have a special interest and expertise in weight loss, eating disorders, men’s health, diabetes, aged care, addiction etc.).

"We remind the public that GPs are highly skilled doctors – comprehensively trained across all areas of medicine.

"Parents are urged to have a strong relationship with a GP clinic, as this enables doctors to observe a child’s growth, development and behaviour over multiple visits. GPs are uniquely positioned to observe children when they are well (perhaps brought in for a vaccination, or when they have accompanied a sibling or parent to a GP appointment) and also when they are unwell. When parents bring in a child to a general practice, GPs understand that they are treating both the child and the parents' concerns.

"A core part of general practice is knowing when emergency or speciality care is needed. This applies to both adult and paediatric medicine. For example, a GP will capably treat an adult with diabetes, but also knows when the patient’s condition needs specialist care.  Similarly, a GP will capably treat a child with asthma, but also knows when the patient’s condition needs specialist care.

"While GPs understand parents’ anxiety over having a sick child (and more commonly in recent years, concerns over a child’s development) – an ongoing relationship with a general practice is fundamental to children’s health and wellbeing, and that of the parent/s," Dr Baker said.



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